Millennium Post

DoT may seek Trai’s views on how to allocate spectrum without auction

The Department of Telecom (DoT) may seek sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) views on the process to be adopted for allocation of spectrum to telecom operators without auction, following the draft recommendation in this regard by its internal committee.
The last spectrum allocation through administrative process for mobile telephony was done in 2009. But later it was put on hold following series of controversial reports regarding spectrum allocation made in 2008 for 122 2G telecom licences.

Later, Supreme Court in its judgement on 2 February, 2012 cancelled these licences and asked government to allocate the freed spectrum through auction. DoT formed an internal committee to look into conditions where auction cannot be always suitable for spectrum allocation.

This is especially in cases like allocation of small amount of airwaves to telecom operators who were earlier allocated 4.4 megahertz of frequencies to bring them in sync with new rules of 5 Mhz spectrum allocation, or for duration in between their licence period of 20 years. DoT's Committee on Allotment/Assignment and Pricing of Spectrum, in its draft report, is learnt to have suggested that the department seek Trai’s recommendations on the matter of spectrum assignment and allocation meant for commercial use without auction. The panel in its report said the reference to Trai be made on 'terms of reference of the committee ie conditions which need to be satisfied in order to adopt auction as the preferred or sole mode of allotment/assignment of spectrum for the services'. The committee, however, has suggested that airwaves frequencies allocated to organisations for internal use need not be referred to the sector regulator.

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in a communication to DoT has sought exemption from auction for spectrum to be allocated to Prasar Bharti and that 'spectrum to Prasar Bharti would be allocated on rates fixed by Government of India.'

The DoT panel has, however, opined that broadcasting services are in the category of public/ commercial services and even this matter may be referred to Trai for its recommendation.
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